The new and the old collide in more ways than one in Jurassic World: Dominion, which brings the popular dinosaur franchise to a close (for now) with mixed results.
The globetrotting story – which takes place four years after dinosaurs were freed to roam the world in Fallen Kingdom– kicks into high gear when mercenaries kidnap teenage clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) from her step-parents and former Jurassic World employees Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who quickly give chase.
Meanwhile, a new breed of grain-devouring locusts attracts the attention of environmental scientist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), who calls on her old friends Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to help her find proof.
The merging of those two storylines is inelegant, but director Colin Trevorrow at least wastes no time in getting the old band back together, and they deliver plenty of crowd-pleasing nostalgia.
Goldblum is unsurprisingly having the most fun of the trio, bringing his unique charisma to Malcolm and slipping back into his flirty dynamic with Dern’s Sattler with ease. It stands in stark contrast to the characters we’ve been following in recent years.
Owen and Claire may be saying all the right things to each other, but Pratt and Howard – who are both talented actors – can’t translate their dialogue into emotional pathos on screen.
Elsewhere, franchise newcomers DeWanda Wise and Mamoudou Athie squeeze all the juice they can from thinly written characters.
As for the dino-action, an extended chase sequence in Malta is a highlight, and there are a few inventive sequences as our characters are thrust into life-threatening scenarios with these carnivorous beasts.
Therein lies an issue though – Dominion is seriously lacking when it comes to genuine threat, because you’re never really under any illusion that anyone we’re rooting for is ever in serious danger of getting killed or even losing a limb.
After a while, it drains tension from any dino-confrontation and the movie as a whole.
It also doesn’t help that the plot thread of dinosaurs coexisting with humans in the world – which was what the previous film teased – is mostly forgotten about, playing third fiddle to Maisie’s clone saga and a swarm of locusts masterminded by yet another evil scientist.
It’s emblematic of a franchise that leans on the safety of what’s come before. For better, and for worse.
Jurassic World: Dominion hits cinemas on June 10.